Electronic Student Staff Files: Yay or Nay?

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Electronic Student Staff Files: Yay or Nay?

Posted by Jessica Wilson on Nov 30, 2018 10:20 am

Hi Friends,

I am looking into going paperless for our student employee files but I am not sure the best way to do this. Right now we have the typical old school paper file for each employee and add to it every year. We then have a giant filing cabinet we use to store them all in after they graduate in case we need to give someone a reference later. Papers include: Resume, Interview materials, policy agreements (staff handbook, social media, confidentiality), evaluations, information card and disciplinary forms. 

While a few of these make clear and easy sense to turn into a Google Form, the interview materials, evals and disciplinary forms (which are signed) seem like I would use paper and then have to scan in the doc which obviously doesn't cut down on the paper usage. 

I am also unsure how best to store all these files electronically. We are a Google Campus so my first thought was to create Google files for each student though we could store then in a shared network outside of Google too. With staff turn over on the professional side, I don't want to create too many hoops to jump through.

Is anyone doing their files electronically? How are you managing this? Pros/Cons?

Thanks for your help!
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Re: Electronic Student Staff Files: Yay or Nay?

Posted by Filip Pongratz on Nov 30, 2018 11:10 am

Hi Jess - we went as paperless as we could over 10 years ago or so once Temple University started having a license agreement with Xerox for a decent Workcenter station with scan to email/drive capability. I stopped our department storing paper copies at that point across the board and was able to reduce paper consumption at that time by about 70%. Everything is stored on a shared network drive and I create personnel folders for all hires. Personnel folders on the shared drive are limited with only myself and my director having access. We are a Google campus too but do not store anything online in that way.

For interviews, disciplinary forms and evaluations, as you mentioned, we do print out for people to complete and sign. TU is still paper based in some areas but we then scan everything as a packet and file on the shared drive as needed and send via email to HR for the relevant FT hires. For student hires, the paperwork is easier and nothing needs to be sent to HR once the position gets approved online. So those evals are just scanned and stored in the person's personnel folder and we hire them through the online system that is used. I could create an online form for the interview script that people could complete on their phone or laptop during the interview but for as much as I want to move away from paper I am not a fan of that for interviews.

The biggest improvement for me is the easier access to find relevant files on the shared drive and not needing huge file cabinets cluttering an office or storage area. You need to decide on a naming convention and online file system that everyone needs to follow. I think the consistent naming convention is the part that people miss a lot of the times and you just need to force this to your liking. So for invoices my personal take on it is: date_companyname_item_invoicenumber_$_500.pdf. The date should be formatted ddmmyy and I do not allow spaces in filenames so underscores need to be used to separate the sections. I separate the dollar amount from the $ sign due to a technical issue with how Windows sees the $ sign during searches if it is not separated from a value. It acts as a hidden modifier without using advanced searching techniques in a search bar.


When we first transitioned we had to make a choice, either scan everything we currently have then shred which will be as tedious as it sounds or moving forward start scanning everything. Then follow document retention policies for your University and purge annually as appropriate. It was 7 years for paper documentation at TU.

I really see no cons in the process and to your point about staff turnover, part of my on-boarding is reinforcing the file naming convention so that sticks quickly in my experience.

Filip Pongratz
Associate Director, Student Center Operations
SFC Activities & Operations
# 2157074362